The first section of I-20 in Alabama, between Leeds and Riverside, was completed in the early 1960s, and other portions throughout the state were slowly added. Meanwhile, the main routes along the I-20 corridor were the two-lane US Route 78 (Alabama State Route 4) from Birmingham east through Oxford and US Route 11 (State Route 7) from Birmingham southwest through Tuscaloosa. Fewer lanes, lower speed limits, and the fact that you had to go through the middle of every town along the way meant it could take twice as long to travel. Back then, so I’ve been told, there were no spontaneous shopping trips to Birmingham. With all the hassle, it was a rare occasion to go and always planned.
It takes an hour and forty-five minutes for me to drive along I-20 across the state from Tuscaloosa, where I go to university, to my hometown of Munford (I do take I-459 around Birmingham to avoid downtown traffic). I’m sure I would not travel home very often if it were a three- or four-hour drive each way instead. And as bad as traffic for Alabama home games is today with I-20, it would be much worse without it. So, while I will continue to gripe about I-20 and all its construction, I’m happy it’s there, and I’m happy they’re improving it. I just wish they would do it a little faster.